Park City Mountain Resort open for skiing this winter

Park City Mountain Resort recently accepted a buyout offer from Vail after previous plans to pay  $182.5 million in cash to renew their lease. Park City Mountain Resort will now be a part of the Epic Pass, which allows for unlimited winter access to 12 resorts nationwide. (Photo by Dan Campbell Photography)
Park City Mountain Resort recently accepted a buyout offer from Vail. The resort will now be a part of the Epic Pass, which allows for unlimited winter access to 12 resorts nationwide. (Dan Campbell Photography)

Despite doubts about whether Park City Mountain Resort will be open this coming ski season, a deal last week ensured that the resort will be up and running when the snow falls this winter.

Park City Mountain Resort accepted an offer to sell the resort to Vail for $182.5 million, just days after it agreed to pay the bond that would allow it to open for another season.

“First and foremost, we are very pleased to bring a permanent end to this dispute and provide assurance to the guests and employees of PCMR … that they no longer have to worry about any disruption to the operation of the resort,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, in a statement.

The issue arose when PCMR forgot to renew its lease back in 2011. Talisker, a luxury real estate company, took PCMR to court to evict it from the property, although PCMR owns the parking lots, buildings and water rights to make snow for the whole resort.

PCMR was in a lengthy litigation process with Talikser, trying to agree on what to do this winter season, and agreed to the $182.5 million cash buyout on Sept. 11, 2014, according to Ski Utah’s website.

Samuel Call, a 26-year-old BYU business student from Elizabeth, Colorado, frequents PCMR during the winter to ride the park.

“I go to PC because it’s a staple,” Call said. “I can always find at least 10 people to ride with when I’m there. It doesn’t matter so much about the condition of the snow; the park is always well taken care of at PC, and I love to ride park.”

Michael Dideir, a 23-year-old majoring in economics, said he wasn’t going to let anything get in his way for skiing at PCMR.

“If Park City wouldn’t have had a season this year, I would have bought a snowmobile and gone backcountry skiing this winter,” Dideir said. He said he lives across the street from the resort and often heads over during homework breaks to ski a few runs.

But the possible closure of PCMR for the 2014–2015 season would have affected more than just those coming to casually ski or snowboard. The PCMR terrain is used by ski and snowboard instructors completing certification, Olympians training for gold medals and those with disabilities who want to try a new sport.

Michael Gebhard, a neuroscience student from Grand Junction, Colorado, was planning on volunteering with the National Ability Center at PCMR this winter to help students learn how to ski.

“A friend and I have received four hours of training already to become an assistant, and we are excited to volunteer with the National Ability Center once a week this winter,” Gebhard said. “I would have been super disappointed if they did close. I found out about the group in April, and talking with parents of those who children are enrolled in the program is wonderful.”

Gebhard would have had to travel to Snowbird in order to participate with the National Ability Center if PCMR didn’t have a winter season, something he said would have been more of a hassle.

Some, like Call, predicted the outcome of the dispute.

“All in all, I frankly I think that if Vail takes over it’ll be good,” Call said before the deal was announced. “I’m from Colorado, and I get the epic local pass. In Utah it isn’t the same, (with) one pass, one resort. I’m livid about that. I would love for Vail to have Canyons and PCMR.”

Now Call’s dream will come true. With the recent purchase by Vail, Park City will be included in the Epic Pass, which includes unlimited access to 12 ski resorts nationwide, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, Aparhoe Basin and now Park City. The pass sells for $749 for adults and $389 for children.

Additionally, Utah’s One Wasatch plan might become a reality. The proposed plan would connect seven Utah ski resorts with just one pass and line of ski lifts. Skiers could start their day at Snowbird Resort and make their way through all the resorts, eventually ending at Deer Valley. All that stands between One Wasatch from becoming a reality is public support and four added ski lifts.

Brandon Hellburg, a senior studying exercise science, was confident that PCMR would still have a winter season and already bought a season pass before the dispute was settled.

“I was confident that the demand for skiing at Park City would outweigh anybody’s ideas of closing or not providing a winter season,” Hellburg said. “Park City is globally renowned. Everybody knows where it is and what it stands for: skiing. It’s too much of a moneymaker. Where would all the skiers go? I met some Italians who came all the way to Utah just to ski at Park City.”

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